Free range learning – the end of CoPs?

Nancy White posted such an interesting comment in response to our thoughts on the ‘next generation of KM’, that I thought I would promote it to a blog entry. In terms of the increasing prevalence of ‘web 2.0′ tools to support learning and knowledge sharing, Nancy suggests that collaborative technologies might in fact be obliviating the need for communities of practice. Although ‘CoPs do not equal knowledge sharing’, they are one of the primary ways in which people can express and fulfill their learning needs.

My first thought was that these technologies would actually strengthen peoples’ link to a CoP because of their need to engage with a specific community to help them navigate the overwhelming amount of information, and deal with all these different tools – but Nancy suggested that perhaps there were too many opportunities to engage, and I suppose this might indeed occur at a rather ‘ad hoc’ basis: people either run away screaming in frustration, or scamper off into their own little niche to create their own mash-ups of RSS feeds, bloglines, etc. In fact I do have to admit that I have seen a particularly impressive personal iGoogle page of one of my more web-savvy and innovative friends, that does just that, and fulfills all his knowledge needs without him having to set a foot out the virtual door to get it.

So what will the future bring us – the end of CoPs? The end of KM? Who has written more on this? Any research? Any literature? I am intrigued.

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2 Responses

  1. interesting..
    … web2.0 offering so many opportunities for knowledge sharing that we depend less on cops and actually, might be overwhelmed. After the present period of transitioning from the old ordering mechanisms (e.g. chief editor) to the new ones we are currently inventing (e.g. tagging, niche finding and crowd ranking), will we be back to square 1?

    it is somehow related to this discussion (started with a statement by Dave Snowden (of sept 7!) on the cp2 facebook group http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=4342272255&topic=2896

    It also resonated with the cops4dev discussion on KM4dev with the hypothesis that “the better connected a person is, the harder to s/he is to engage”.

    i am following with interest…

  2. If you are interested in some further views on this, David Snowden posted the request for literature on his blog. Have a look at the responses: http://www.cognitive-edge.com/blogs/dave/2007/10/two_requests.php#comments

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